I’ve already revealed drivers 16-30 in my 2019 preseason fantasy rankings, and while a great sleeper pick or two can certainly boost your chances of winning your season-long leagues or hitting it big at a DFS site, it is the big names who are going to do a majority of the heavy lifting for your fantasy squads.
There is always some movement among the hierarchy of top drivers, but guys like Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick still look like your best bets when starting off a fantasy squad. Not surprisingly, last year’s “Big 3” start off 2019 atop the rankings.
However, things get a little interesting after that. There are a lot of young drivers who could be poised to take the next step, but it remains to be seen if the likes of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney can make the jump to weekly Top 5 threats.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the rest of my driver rankings and see who takes the No. 1 spot for the 2019 season.
1. Kyle Busch, #18 M&M’s, Joe Gibbs Racing
He didn’t win the title, but Busch won eight races while posting career highs with 22 Top 5s and 28 Top 10s. He has always been a threat to go out and lead laps and win races at any track on the schedule, and he has become a lot more consistent in recent years. If you have to build around one driver in any fantasy format, Busch is your safest bet to deliver a dominant 2019 campaign.
2. Kevin Harvick, #4 Jimmy Johns/Busch Beer, Stewart-Haas Racing
The most dominant stretch of his career continued in 2018 as Harvick made eight trips to victory, logged 29 Top 10s and led more laps than any other driver. Ford’s move to the Mustang could cause a slight learning curve, but Havick and crew chief Rodney Childers have been on top of their game since being paired together. I don’t expect a dip in performance.
3. Martin Truex, Jr., #19 Bass Pro Shops, Joe Gibbs Racing
He couldn’t hold off Joey Logano to repeat as champion, but Truex was stout again in 2018, winning four wins times and surpassing 20 Top 10s. Yes, he is switching teams after Furniture Row Racing had to close its doors, but this will probably be the smoothest transition in recent memory for a driver. Truex moves to juggernaut Joe Gibbs Racing, and he was already using JGR equipment at Furniture Row. Expect Truex to remain among the elite fantasy options in 2019.
4. Chase Elliott, #9 NAPA Auto Parts, Hendrick Motorsports
I might be a little more bullish on Elliott than most, but how can you not be impressed with how he closed out 2018. In addition to finding victory lane three times, Elliott piled up a career-best 21 Top 10s. By the way, he did all that during a year when most of the Chevrolet teams were struggling to adjust to the Camaro. I only expect his numbers to improve in 2019, I have Elliott making the jump to serious title contender and elite fantasy option.
5. Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske
I’m not a Logano fan, but I give the man credit for taking full advantage of the playoff format to walk away with the title. He hit his stride at the right time, and bringing a blazing fast short-run car to Homestead was the right call. It was also proof that 2017 was an outlier because Logano has delivered at least three wins and 22 Top 10s in four of the last five seasons. I don’t know if he can repeat as champ, but I do know he is one of the safest fantasy options in season-long formats.